“If you think it’s going to rain, it will”
At 7.45pm this evening Manchester City fans will be praying their luck is in. It’s a huge task ahead of them and it’s not entirely in their hands. Defeat Bayern Munich and hope that Napoli cannot find a way past Villarreal and the Blues qualify for the second round of the Champions League. Lose and regardless of the result at Villarreal, City will crash out of the competition and enter the Europa League.
City’s form in the Champions League has been in stark contrast to their form in the Premier League where they remain unbeaten having only dropped points at Fulham and Liverpool. In the Champions League however, it is a different story. With six points gained off Villarreal and a point gained in the first tie of the competition against Napoli at the Etihad Stadium losses away in Munich and most recently Naples have left the Blues fighting for the Champions League lives.
Of course, it was always going to be tough for Manchester City as they entered the competition for the first time in their history, let alone the fact that they drew what has been proven to be the hardest group. The experience they’ve gained from the competition this season will stand them in good stead for next season. But the game is not yet over and stranger things have happened.
Having already qualified, Bayern Munich travel to Manchester fully aware that they can rest key players given that flu has ravaged their squad. Munich are without the influential Arjen Robben and Toni Kroos who are both suffering with the illness, whilst Bastian Schweinsteiger also misses out with a broken collarbone. Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez are both struggling to be fit for the game too; although they could come into contention should they pass their fitness tests. Micah Richards is a doubt for Manchester City as he has a problem with his calf and Aleksandar Kolarov will miss out with a groin injury that manager Roberto Mancini believes will see him sidelined over the busy Christmas period. Pablo Zabaleta is expected to have shaken off the slight knee injury that kept him out of City’s previous two matches against Arsenal and Norwich, and is on standby to start should Richards be deemed unfit. Joleon Lescott is expected to return to the heart of the defence alongside Captain Vincent Kompany after missing the game against Norwich at the weekend.
It’s worth noting that Bayern Munich have lost only one of their last seven away games in the Champions League and defeated Manchester City 2-0 at the Allianz Arena earlier in the competition. It’s a tough ask for Manchester City to beat Bayern Munich tonight, made all the more harder by the fact they are relying on Villarreal to take points off Napoli. The players believe, the manager believes but do City have the luck?
The question is Roberto Mancini, do you feel lucky?
City’s probable starting XI: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, De Jong, Yaya Touré, Milner, Silva, Aguero, Balotelli
Will the Blues beat Bayern? Will City qualify for the second round? Agree with my team selection? Comment below